Here’s today's labor history:
On this date in 1981, 15,000 air traffic controllers went out on strike. When President Ronald Reagan fired and permanently replaced the strikers, it not only affected the members of the Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization, or Patco, but it undermined the bargaining power of all American workers and their unions.
As Georgetown labor historian Joe McCartin noted on the 30th anniversary of the strike, "workers in the private sector had used the strike as a tool of leverage in labor-management conflicts between World War II and 1981, repeatedly withholding their work to win fairer treatment from recalcitrant employers. But after Patco, that weapon was largely lost. Reagan’s unprecedented dismissal of skilled strikers encouraged private employers to do likewise. Phelps Dodge and International Paper were among the companies that imitated Reagan by replacing strikers rather than negotiating with them. Many other employers followed suit."
Today’s labor quote is by Joe McCartin, who called the 1981 strike and defeat of Patco, "one of the most important events in late twentieth century U.S. labor history".
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